Autumn Bouquets


I am such a jar and bottle-saver! I save glass jars and bottles of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I was starting to get quite a collection and running out of space to put them, so I thought I’d make … Continue reading



I picked these daffodils yesterday–they’ve just recently started blooming. They were growing by the side of the road, and I just had to pick some! I love the variety–some are bright yellow, some are soft yellow, and some are soft cream. My favorite, though, are the daffodils that have creamy petals with vivid orange centers.

Do you have daffodils in your garden and are they blooming yet?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener and Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.

Spring Colors


I love the colors in this photo I took of hydrangeas, my favorite flower! I thought I’d call out some of these colors and make a spring color palette! These would be great colors to decorate with…or even create artwork or crafts with.

Hope you are enjoying the arrival of spring! :)

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

Spring Fever

I had to make a quick trip to the mall and ended up staying longer than I intended because I was admiring some pretty Spring and Easter tableware and decor at two of my favorite stores, Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma! Teal, light and bright greens, and nature-inspired neutrals seem to be big color themes for the spring season. These happen to be some of my favorite colors–no wonder I was so drawn to the store displays! :) (Photos shown in this post are from Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma)


At Pottery Barn, I loved all the teal in the table settings displayed right by the front entrance. The tableware looked great with the natural color and texture of woven place mats, along with some burlap and twine accents–so springy and outdoorsy! The inside store display I saw looked very much like the set-up in the photo above, featured on the Pottery Barn website.


And I thought these bunny cupcake stands were sweet–they also work great for mini pies and tarts or cookies!


I also liked these nature-inspired basket fillers


…perfect for creating your own woodland baskets!

Picture 14

The teal-green-neutral combination also looked great in other home accessories…


…like this brightly-patterned pillow.


I thought this embroidered butterfly pillow had a great spring feel, too.


And I loved all the glassware in spring colors, especially the teal!

img45cWilliams-Sonoma also had nature-inspired designs in some of their spring tableware


…and they have a new Botanical Citrus Collection which looks very springy.


You can always find fun baking accessories there, like this Buttercup Cakelet Pan. How cute is that?


And I saw these cookies later on their website–some great Easter cookie decorating inspiration!

Do you have Spring Fever like I do? Have you found any inspiring Easter and Spring decorating, entertaining, or gift ideas out there?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

Decorating Ideas for Next Christmas

It never fails…when Christmas is over, I come across ideas I wish I had seen earlier in the season so I could have tried them out. Well, I’m saving these ideas for next Christmas! Maybe you’ll find something here you’ll want to try next year, too!



From My Picture-Perfect Life–Top photo: display ornaments in a variety of glass containers or covered plates or stands. Even larger vases work great! Bottom photo: Silver and gold are a great combination–add fullness to a silvery Christmas tree with decorative gold stems.


From A Fanciful Diversion–a Shabby Chic lantern filled with a collection of snowy, glittery treasures.


My artistic friend Eileen had a similar idea this Christmas, making such a pretty arrangement, above, on her table!


From Carpe Diem–Glttery gold ornaments paired with rustic and natural elements–and more lanterns surrounding the bottom of the tree.


Love this outdoor lantern on a vintage sled–from Self Architecture. Gives any porch a warm and welcoming look!


A great way to add a touch of Christmas to bedrooms–hang stockings at the foot of the bed and add a Christmas pillow on top! From Passion Decor.



Top photo: Pinecones go great with the other rustic decor in this Shabby Chic display, from Seda y Nacar. And from the same site, a festive bannister with gifts and greenery.


What a cozy entryway from Texstil Design!

Christmas tree

Cute little Christmas trees add a nice touch on tables indoors or out. From Jaynes Cozy Corner.


A glowing, golden vintage village warms up any room. From Old, but gold.

Well, we will sure be prepared for next Christmas, won’t we? :) Have you collected some ideas you are saving for next Christmas?

IKEA Inspiration

When I was on vacation recently, I had the chance to stop in at one of my favorite stores–IKEA! They have all kinds of home decor and kitchen items, wonderfully designed and so reasonably priced! I can’t walk into an IKEA store without buying anything, so it’s probably good that I don’t live close to one! :) When I do get a chance to shop there, though, it’s a real treat.

After I got back home, I browsed a little more on their website, I wish I had seen the tumbler pictured above when I was at the store…I definitely would have bought that! Here are some other great things I found…guess I’ll have to add these to my wish list for my next visit!

A fun, graphic rug…


A cool teapot (only $12.99!)…

A nifty serving bowl–I think this was just $2.99…

Colorful potato peelers…

A great chandelier…

A white chairbed…perfect for smaller living spaces…

Cupcake liners…I can always use those!…

And last but not least, ice pop makers…perfect for summer!

Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of the kinds of things you can find at IKEA!

Do you shop at IKEA? What types of things do you buy there?

Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots

Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots is dedicated to “…foodies, food bloggers, home cooks, and chefs…and to anyone who craves a delicious meal, chases beauty, and wants to make people hungry with their photographs.” That certainly includes me! :) So I was glad to have the chance to review this very helpful, comprehensive guide to taking better food photos. Author Nicole S. Young specializes in commercial photography and is an accredited Adobe Certified Expert, so she has lots of expert advice and tips to share!

This book has seven chapters…

  1. Photography Fundamentals
  2. Photography Equipment
  3. Lighting
  4. Styling and Props
  5. Framing and Composition
  6. Processing Images with Adobe® Photoshop®
  7. Behind the Scenes

The chapters cover everything from getting the right camera equipment, using the right camera settings, creating the best lighting and composition, helpful food styling tips, and photo editing techniques with Photoshop. The last chapter, Behind the Scenes, is especially interesting because it goes into detail about how some great food photos were created.

Throughout the book, there are also photo tips and how-tos highlighted on various pictures…

I thought these pages were really helpful!

Overall, I think this is a great book to have if you’re wanting to improve your food photography skills. Don’t worry about having to get the newest, most expensive equipment…Nicole recommends working with what you have while you’re learning before you run out and buy anything new. My own camera is about 7 years old (it’s a Canon Rebel XT), but I’m still going to be using this for awhile!

I feel like I still have a lot to learn when it comes to photography and I’m really excited about trying out what I’m learning from this book!

What about you–do you enjoy photography?  Do you know a lot about it, or are you more of a beginner?

A Trip to Altanta

Recently I went to Atlanta with some co-workers to attend the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) and the Atlanta Gift Show. Our hotel was right by the Centennial Olympic Park (photo above by David Henry). While at ICRS, in addition to seeing new books, card, and stationery products, we had the opportunity to view a special preview showing of a new film that will be coming out in September called CourageousIt’s a touching, inspiring movie that will make you laugh and cry, so bring tissues! You can learn more about it and watch a trailer of it by clicking here. The group Casting Crowns has made a music video for the movie, too–click here to see that.

The gift show was at AmericasMart® in the huge Atlanta Convention Center, with floors and floors of the newest items in stationery, giftware, home accessories and furnishings, jewelry and fashion…you name it! One of my favorite showrooms was Natural Life. I loved the colorful, unique, handmade look of their products.

Another showroom I liked was Gabby Home. They had great home accessories and furniture with a rustic and weathered look. It made me want to do some redecorating! :)

Of course, we had to eat, too, and found some great places in downtown Atlanta. We had some delicious breakfasts at the Landmark Diner and enjoyed several lunch and dinners at the Cafe Intermezzo. This cafe has so much to choose from, and if you’re wanting dessert they offer over 100 different tortes, tarts, cakes, pies, and cheesecakes!

It was fun seeing everything in Atlanta. Now I have to do some not-so-fun stuff like laundry…

Creative Cookie Decorating by Naomi

If you like creatively decorated cookies, you’re in for a treat! These photos are from a blog called Hello Naomi. Naomi is a very talented baker, cake decorator, and party stylist. I love to gaze at all the wonderful, yummy creations she comes up with! I thought I’d share a few of my Naomi cookie favorites with you–not only does she make wonderfully fun and pretty cookies, she takes awesome photos of them, too!

Aren’t these cookies great? I did a few earlier posts about some wonderful cupcakes Naomi created, Cupcake Eye Candy and More Cupcakes by Naomi, if you want to check them out. And Naomi’s blog is so inspiring, you’ll have to stop by and visit it!

Monster Cookies and the Monster Doodle iPad App


This is a post about two monstrously good things…a recipe for some yummy Monster Cookies and a fun iPad App called Monster Doodle. They kind of go hand in hand…you and your kids can bake up a batch of these monster-size cookies, then sit back and create some fun monsters on your iPad while you’re munching on those cookies!


The Monster Doodle iPad App was created by two of my friends and co-workers, Brian and Jon. It’s a fun, creative, and imaginative way to come up with hundreds of cartoon monster faces on your iPad! I created the monster shown in the photo above. :) Here’s how it works…

  • Create your own personal monster by choosing from over 150 monster “parts” in 7 categories (body, eyes, nose, mouth, hands, ears, and some fun “extras”)
  • You can change each “part” by rotating it or making it larger or smaller.
  • You can mix and match all the parts and come up with an almost infinite number of monsters!
  • It’s easy to add and remove pieces, or just start completely over.
  • You can save your monster creations to your Photo Album.
  • It provides hours of creative fun for kids of all ages.
  • It’s available on the iTunes store for just $.99! To get to the store, click here.




Okay, now for the Monster Cookie recipe…these cookies are really yummy and they have lots of oatmeal in them, along with peanut butter and raisins. So that makes them kind of healthy, right? :) They also have some M&M’s and chocolate chips…I used dark chocolate chips, but you could use semi-sweet chips, too. The recipe I came up with is a combination of different recipes that I looked up on the web…there are so many variations of this cookie, but I really like the way this recipe turned out…so I hope you get a chance to try them!


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups M&M’s® milk chocolate candies
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips)
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, mix eggs and brown sugar, blending well. Add the salt, vanilla extract, peanut butter, and softened butter; blend all ingredients well. Add in baking soda, oats, and flour, mixing well. Then fold in M&M’s®, chocolate chips, and raisins, stirring to distribute evenly in batter.

Drop the cookie dough by 1/4 cupfuls onto the lined baking sheets and bake for about 13 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned…careful not to overbake! Let cookies cool for a few minutes on the sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. This makes about 30 jumbo cookies.

You can store them at room temperature in resealable plastic bags or other airtight containers. You can freeze some, too, if you want to save some for later!

Linked to Foodie Friday.

Eileen’s Cranberry Almond Breakfast Scones

My artistic friend Eileen made these delicious scones and gave me the recipe (and this wonderful photo she took of them!) so I could share them with you, too! Eileen adapted her recipe from a cranberry scone recipe she found in a cookbook called Scones, Muffins, and Tea Cakes: Breakfast Breads and Teatime Spreads. These are buttermilk scones made without eggs, flavored with dried cranberries, almonds, and almond extract, and topped with a sweet touch-of-cinnamon glaze–doesn’t that sound yummy? Here is Eileen’s recipe…it makes 16 scones.


  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2  teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 6 to 8 pieces
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the dried cranberries and almond slivers. Pour in the buttermilk and almond extract and mix with spatula until blended.

Gather the dough into a ball and divide in half. On a lightly floured board, roll into 2 circles, approximately ½ to ¾ inch thick. Cut each circle into 8 wedges.

To make the glaze, combine the cream, cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl;  set aside.

Bake the scones on the prepared baking sheet for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are golden. Remove scones from the oven and brush with glaze. Makes 16 scones.

Not only is Eileen a very good baker, she is also a talented artist! Here’s a still life she painted…

Isn’t that beautiful? Eileen is involved in art shows from time to time and has her work shown in galleries, too. She is such a talented artist!

Thanks for sharing your wonderful scone recipe with us, Eileen!

Linked to Sunday Showcase, Sundae Scoop, Potluck Sunday, Tasty Tuesday, Full Plate Thursday, It’s A Keeper Thursday, Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday.

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Elegant Gilded Pumpkins & Other Ideas

Talk about some wonderful pumpkin decorating…this photo of beautifully gilded pumpkins really caught my attention over at There are paint kits available that you can use to get this look in The Country Living Artisans Collection, or you may be able to improvise with your own materials. Here’s how to create gilded pumpkins in a nutshell and for more information, visit the links above. All photos shown and gilding directions are from

How to get started…

You can use real or faux pumpkins…make sure the surface is clean and dry. Wearing gloves, apply a base coat with a paintbrush to seal the surface. Let dry for 30-60 minutes.

Position stickers (from the kit) on the pumpkin, then apply “sticky size” over the entire surface, including the stickers. Leave until it’s clear and tacky, 10 to 20 minutes.

Apply gold and silver leaf to the pumpkin and smooth with a soft cloth to fill in the gaps.

Carefully pull off stickers using tweezers.

Apply toner with a paintbrush. Wipe away the toner with a soft cloth to get the desired color and effect.

Here are some other great autumn decorating ideas I liked at

Decorate terra-cotta pots and gourds with imitation silver and gold leaf.

Carve out small pumpkins and insert votive candles…this is a great idea for decorating your table all autumn long!

Make a Pumpkin Tower, stacking different sizes and colors of pumpkins. This could work nicely in a corner of your front porch or backyard patio. There aren’t any specific instructions for this on the website, but it looks like some stems have been cut down or removed on the lower pumpkins for easier stacking.

There are 29 pumpkin decorating ideas in all, so visit to see more!

Decorating with Pumpkins

I saw some really fun pumpkin carving and decorating ideas over at They have 31 ideas in all! I picked out a few of my favorites to share with you (photos and instructions are all from


The two photos shown above are of etched pumpkins. According to Southern Living, “Etching will leave an artful design on your pumpkin. The technique allows your pumpkin to last longer and is less messy than traditional carving.” There are some etching templates you can download at their site, or you can use any simple black and white line art pattern that you like…or even create your own pattern!

Etching Instructions:

  • Print out a copy of the pattern you want to etch on your pumpkin–it should be the actual size that you want to use.
  • Trim the pattern, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the design. Tape the pattern to your pumpkin.
  • Use a non-serrated paring knife to pierce through the paper and cut along the outlines of the pattern.
  • Remove the paper. Cut deeper along the outlines if necessary.
  • Peel the skin inside the pattern off with the paring knife.

That sounds pretty easy!


Instead of the typical jack 0′ lantern face, try a pretty, more delicate carving of a flower, maple leaf, or other simple decorative object. Light the pumpkin with a scented votive (but be sure not to leave the lit candle unattended).


To convert a large, wide pumpkin into a cooler, just cut the top from the pumpkin with a serrated knife and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Line the bottom and sides of the pumpkin with a 2-gallon zip-top plastic bag (or whatever size plastic bag you need–just make sure it’s sturdy enough to put the ice in). Fill the bag with ice and your favorite beverages.

If you like snacking on pumpkin seeds, you can toast all those seeds you just scooped out…here’s a recipe.


Rinse the pumpkin seeds from one large pumpkin and pat dry with paper towels. Toss with 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1 Tablespoon dried ground thyme, and 1 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until toasted.


To make these, you’ll need sturdy cookie cutters made of thick stainless steel; smaller ones work best because the larger designs tend to lose their shape more easily. Just follow these easy steps:

  • Cut a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin (instead of the top) and clean out the insides.
  • Place a cookie cutter on the pumpkin; gently tap the cutter with a rubber mallet until it pushes through the skin.
  • Repeat until you complete your desired design.
  • Place each pumpkin over a small candle. Use these to decorate your porch, front walk, or patio and enjoy the pretty glow!


To create this elegant decorative look, you’ll need a container for your topiary…either an urn or clay pot filled with rocks or sand so it won’t tip over. Choose three pumpkins in graduated sizes. Make sure the largest one will fit snugly in your container.

You’ll want the center of the topiary to be open so that a single strand of lights can be woven throughout the arrangement. Prepare the base pumpkin by cutting the top off (you can discard the top) and cleaning out the center. For the center pumpkin, do the same, but also cut a hole in the bottom so it will rest securely on the base pumpkin. Prepare the top pumpkin by cutting a hole in the bottom only, and cleaning out the center. It should rest securely on the center pumpkin.

To make holes in the pumpkins, you can use an apple corer for larger ones, and a drill with a 5/16-inch drill bit for the smaller ones. Make holes in a random pattern over all three pumpkins (making enough holes for the lights you’ll be putting in to shine through).

Using a 100-count strand of twinkle lights, pull the cord through one of the larger holes in the base of the topiary. Spread the lights evenly throughout the arrangement as you stack the pumpkins (you can use florist tape between each pumpkin to help secure them if you need to). Add some branches of leaves or vines at the base of the topiary as a finishing touch to the arrangement.

I think this pumpkin topiary looks so elegant!

Hope you see some ideas you like…and have fun decorating with pumpkins!

Linked to Get Your Craft On Thursday.